Decoding the Graduate Management Test

Decoding the Graduate Management Test

TIP OFF David  A Wilson, who heads GMAC, believes time management is crucial for students who want to ace the test. How many Indian students take GMAT every year?

In 2009, a total of 30,633 Indian students took the exam. We’ve seen a 128 per cent increase during the last five years. We expect this number to grow exponentially over the next five years, which is why we will be soon setting up an office in New Delhi.

Give us a brief overview of the test and the question pattern.

GMAT is a computer adaptive test, which means that the difficulty of the test adjusts to the test taker. The Quantitative and Verbal sections start with moderately difficult questions, and the more questions the student answers correctly, the tougher the test becomes. If he answers incorrectly, the next question will probably be easier. The student is not allowed to skip a question.

There are three parts to the test: Analytical Writing Assessment with two 30-minute essays; Quantitative section with 37 questions; and Verbal section with 41 questions. Verbal and Quantitative sections have multiple choice questions, with a duration of 75 minutes each. With optional rest breaks, the test should take the student four hours to complete.

Can students repeat the test for a better score?

It depends on whether a student is considering repeating the test because his GMAT score is unusually low compared to his academic scores or if he believes that he can score better in the second sitting. However, we have found that approximately 25 per cent end up with a lower score when they repeat the test.

Who designs the test?

GMAT has a standardised format. Over the years, the format of the test has undergone tremendous change. The goal was to keep the results relevant and valid for five years. We have a team of professors, teachers and academics, across the world, who contribute with questions. We call them ‘item writers’. The questions are tested by an in-house team. We even have professors from the IIMs contributing to the question pool.
Every year, we conduct a feedback study with B Schools that use our data. We use this feedback to design the questions so that they test the skills that colleges/universities are looking for among students.

Could you elaborate on that?

Business schools look for students with excellent communication skills, a strong foundation in quantitative analysis and logical thinking. Our questions are modelled to test a student’s strength in these three areas.

Does GMAT analyse a student’s personality and adaptability traits?

Absolutely not. GMAT does not gauge a student’s personality. It is a module that measures quantitative and analytical skills that cannot be interpreted for other purposes besides academics. International governments and students must understand that the test is not responsible for results that do not pertain to academics.

In a survey conducted by GMAC recently, numbers showed that the majority of people with an MBA degree or any other graduate management degree in 2009 were employed within a few months of finishing school. Three quarters of business school graduates participated in GMAC Semi-Annual Alumni Perspectives Survey in September 2009. A total of 96 per cent reported that they were employed. This goes to show that knowledge, skills and network of contacts which students develop in a business school are considered valuable in the job market despite it being a tight labour market.

GMAC has set a new record in 2009-2010 for the number of tests administered worldwide in a single year...

The unprecedented testing level that we have seen over the years is only a clear indication of the value of graduate management education in the market. A total of 4,700 business schools, across the world, use our test results as they consider it a good barometer for evaluating talent.

What advice would you give our young readers waiting to take the test this year?

I strongly believe that, besides going for coaching classes and practising with online resources, students must develop a study pattern. Time management is most crucial when comes to tests such as GMAT.

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